Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Quiet Demise of Handwriting

When I was younger, before there were cell phones, laptops, tablets etc...I used pen and pencil to write.  I loved writing so much I would make lists of things I had already done just to have something to write and satisfyingly cross out.


Oh what a satisfying feeling sharp pencil dragging across paper is to me!

My friends and I had notebooks that we would write in during class and then exchange between classes.  I could write novels of conversation in the span of a few minutes. I still can. In fact, every story I work on I write long hand and then type. I can stare blankly at a screen for ages with not a thought coming out in type but when I put pen to paper magic happens baby!

15 years later, stooped over a faded hand written letter penned by a man named Sir Henry Strachey who was a diplomat sent to America to try to smooth things over between the colonies and Britain in 1775, I marvel at his beautiful, elegant, swirly handwriting.  The particular page I am remembering was a love letter to his wife, the kind that made you blush despite having said nothing graphic in nature back when men had to use prose to impress a woman.  (I've got my husband working on that one;)  It was the combination of beautiful words and beautiful writing that struck me and got me feeling melancholy. Is a beautiful handwritten page, in a mans hand no less, something we may never see again?

I went home that day and told my husband I wanted him to write me a love letter. Something that can be found in 200 years by a future archivist, something that will make them wonder what my life was like. He wrote me a beautiful love letter that I cherish but I should note that he typed it up and printed it out.  No, not printed by hand, printed out of a printer.  And thus is the sign of the times. (I still love it babe, thank you!)

I sat down on my porch one day watching the kids play, doodling in my notebook, and I decided to write out the alphabet in cursive.  Upper and lower case.  Go ahead and find yourself a piece of paper and a pencil and do the same right now.  Go ahead.  Don't be surprised when you get tripped up on a few of those rarely used uppercase cursives. Try not to be too appalled at how awkward it feels to write period. We barely even sign our names with real pencils anymore. Instead we swipe cards and scribble something illegible with an electronic pen that is about as useless as one square of toilet paper.

That day I realized mine may be the last generation of cursive writers and how awful a realization that is! With the implementation of Common Core in every school in America and teachers being given the option of spending time on teaching cursive or working on more test prep etc., cursive instruction is a rarity. There are many who feel it should be this way since we are in the age of technology.  It's a valid argument. We type, we swipe, we tap screens, we speak words out loud and they appear and soon we will simply think it and it will be so (how sweet will that be?)

But wait! Those who would toss cursive in the can should be advised that I have done my research and there may be more reason to keep it than previously thought:)  In fact, brain imaging studies have shown the benefits of a child writing cursive are in the same realm as learning to play a musical instrument. 

As someone whose eldest son struggles with Sensory Processing Disorder I can tell you that the type of organization, coordination, and stimulation provided by learning cursive sounds like a great tool to help him 'rewire.' In a time when we have so many children with processing difficulties teaching cursive and noting improvements in children, especially those with attention and processing disorders, is well worth study.

This article by Dr. William Klemm, Professor of Neuroscience at Texas A&M, is well worth the read (it's a short one so you have time;) What Learning Cursive Does For Your Brain.

Even if you don't have children to concern yourself with, the demise of the hand-written word is something we are all witness to and a phenomenon worth pondering. What will future generations glean about us from our digital footprint? As an Archivist I can tell a lot about a person from their handwriting such as roughly what year they were born, what country they were taught in, what their economic status was etc...Perhaps next time you send a thank you note, rather than a quick post on Facebook, a text or a voicemail, try writing a note in cursive. What does your writing say about you? Does your language change when you write rather than type? Does it make you feel calm and focused?

Admit it, that scraaaaatch is so satisfying:)

Get a Room!

Is this the picture of marital bliss or what?
It is a little scary to have people tell you they admire your marriage.  A huge compliment! but scary as well because we all know, married or not, how fragile relationships are. Sometimes I worry the admiration will jinx us.  Relationships can turn in a instant, often when only one of you is aware and I know this from personal experience.  

How many billions of people over the course of history have been blindsided by infidelity? How many surprised by their own affections turning toward someone other than their partner?  Or from one or both somehow falling straight out of love with each other?

I have a strong marriage BUT I don't take for granted how easily things can change when people become so 'sure' they have a strong relationship that they feel no need to maintain it.

I have no business giving anyone marital advice I'm simply going to list what I think are the reasons I have found happiness after some interesting trial and error.

First, and possibly most important, he is my best friend and he was my best friend before we became a couple.  It makes all the difference in marriage. Before marriage, passion counts. Typically, but not always, you have to be physically attracted to each other to generate interest.  Once you're married and the everyday grossness and boredom of life creeps in (like taking care of each other when you have the flu, or helping plunge the toilet, or tag team cleaning diarrhea off a child, or tooting when you lean in to kiss each other, or realizing that you  actually are at Home Depot and/or Bed Bath and Beyond on a Saturday, and thus just a razors edge away from breaking down and streaking through the quad to start off your mid-life crisis) THEN when all this has occurred friendship, comfort, and the ability to laugh at life together will matter more than passion.  It will have to! Because bodily malfunctions and double-crosses increase exponentially with age.  It truly gets so ridiculous and gross that you will want to leave yourself at times...or maybe that's just me.

Second-Passion.  I said it counts before marriage and I stand by that.  It should be strong enough to withstand the above mentioned situations along with a whole host of others.  Not just funny situations but hard ones. Things like sickness, losing your hair, being unable to have sex, gaining weight, losing weight, job loss, job stress, kid stress, exhaustion, boredom, side effects from medications.  It's hard to look at the person you may have once lusted after and not see them anymore, I mean really not see them because they are droopy or heavier, wrinkled etc...Holding onto passion while you each individually deteriorate or fall apart is wicked hard and it happens to us all at some point.  

It is a harsh reality of life that we will love each other and bear witness to the demise of our loved ones and ourselves.

So we keep touching.  Once you stop hugging, holding hands, kissing, can be awkward to try and pick it back up.  It is the first step in growing apart. I never understood why people didn't hold hands more.  It's so simple and yet can be so powerful in keeping you both connected. I literally hang on my husband like an old coat.  He comes in from work and I knock my kids to the ground to get to him first, jumping on like a spider monkey. He loves it;) 

Next is knowing yourself and having faith in yourself.  It seems obvious that we can't be good for one another if we aren't good for ourselves. There was a long period of time I wanted to be with my husband and he didn't feel the same.  The problem wasn't that he didn't care, the problem was that he was all set with who he was and I was most definitely not.  I had to find faith and ground myself, and when I did we came together. God knew the right time and that was it. 

Too often people allow their significant other to define them, they don't know who they are on their own, can't stand on their own, they find themselves in the other person.  But is that good?  Who are you without the other person? Marriage is a partnership, not a dictatorship. I would be lost without my man, but not because I am lost myself.  If you don't know yourself and have faith in yourself before joining in marriage with someone else, you will project your self doubt onto them.  They will slowly become the cause for your lack of self worth.  We may have a life together but my life is just that.  It's my only go round the rock, and I'm sharing it with him.  I have a strong faith in myself and that helps me have a strong faith in US.

Finally, and this is big, we keep things LIGHT.  Playful, fun, humorous. Example: hubs and I are flat broke, and while he tends to be more depressive, I can always find the light. Case in point.  Bank account overdrawn $27, made $38 in an impromptu garage sale. EPIC WIN. We are on the positive baby! Of course, I could weep and wallow about how on Earth we're going to pay this and that, get this and that, when will life get easier??  It's endless, it's life. I pinch his butt, he makes dirty comments only I can hear, we geek out over scifi, we tickle our kids.  We have our down moments but they are few and far between.  We have to keep it light, darkness comes easy for everyone.  And while others may shake their heads at us, we don't shake them at each other.  We count our blessings, and they are many, even if they aren't matched by dollars in the bank.

So that's it. or at least the big reasons that come to mind.  Don't think for a second we don't do things that drive each other crazy.  I won't even mention the vacuum he bought, and I'm sure he'd have a few complaints about things I have said or done.  But nothing negative sticks because we don't let it.  

One last thing I almost forgot:)  A good friend shared a prayer for her daughter publicly on Facebook the other day that I thought was beautiful. She said "God please let my daughter find all the good people. Keep the drama, and the people who create drama out of her life, even if they are family."  Indeed, don't let the drama of others seep into your marriage.  This is something we try to avoid. Remember who you have to concern yourself with.  You can be there for people as support without being part of their issues. 

Issues are like Cancer, it may start in a specific place but it can spread quickly and to places you wouldn't have thought.  

I always interpreted the vow "what God has brought together, let no man put asunder," to be a very powerful point often overlooked. To me it means that once you are partnered with another your main concern is each other.  You are each others person and no one else may take their place, or pull you apart. 

The rest is fluff. 


Milestones have been around since ancient Rome. They were actual stones
Ancient Milestone
placed along the road to both reassure travelers that they were still on the right road and to show how far they had come, or how far they had left to go. 

Humans count birthdays as a living milestone, each culture revering a different age for different reasons. I'm of the opinion every single birthday is a milestone and today is my 35th.

Rock. The. House. Y'all.

I have never been one to freak out about aging, after all, each birthday is a gift isn't it?  Whatever age one is turning it seems a shame to complain if you stop to think of the countless people who would probably have happily reached that age had they been given the chance.  

But this year is the first time I have felt a bit melancholy about the passage of time. I am no longer my own point of reference for age.  I have children and they have made the passage of time much more ‘real’ to me than it ever was when it was just me I was keeping track of.

A milestone, a point along the miles traveled in life in which a marker has been laid.  A stone placed in observance of a distance achieved.  

5-years-old was a milestone for me. Though not far along the path of life I remember that year with some kind of warmth and happiness that I can’t describe. I was all pigtails, overalls, hugs and kisses. If I could wish a certain kind of happiness for every child it would be the happiness of my 5th year on Earth.

17. That was the year my father died.  I hate that it’s a milestone but if we're talking markers in the road of life that one is a building.  That was the year that the person I could or would have been died and an alternate version sprung up. Yep, 17 was a major milestone, a mark in the road from which I measure everything that occurred since.

27. Oh 27 if I could have made you last forever! I was young, thin, had just finished my Master's degree and was about to get married. Oh, and I had my first baby-my sweet little quirky mad scientist Miles. 27 deserves a marker for sure:)

Now I sit at the dawn of my 35th year.  I type this bleary eyed waiting for my coffee to brew to give me a dash of ambition and a smidgen of clarity for the day.  No wild parties planned.  Didn't celebrate the whole 'birthday week' or 'birthday month.' Those days are gone.  I didn't even sleep in.  2 very excited boys bounced on my head at 6:15 in the morning because they could not contain themselves at the excitement of my birthday.  That's contagious:)

Milestones just happen.  I could be embarking on one right now and not know it and I love that about life!  35, like every other year, will be great because I make it great and THAT is the true key to happiness.

You're welcome.